by Brian Leubitz
Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) has been an environmental leader in the Legislature since the day she stepped into the Assembly in 2000, including work on the landmark climate change bill, AB 32. Her current environmental focus is the question of hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting liquids into soft rock to release trapped hydrocarbons. Today her bill, SB 4, heads to the Natural Resources Committee. (Click here for more bill info)
The bill is far from perfect, and isn’t the complete moratorium that some would like to see. But, it is an attempt to establish wide-ranging protections for the public when it comes to the rapidly-growing practice of hydraulic fracturing of underground rocks to get the oil and gas inside.
“The public is concerned,” Senator Pavley said. “They have become aware of both the huge amount of fracking we could see in California, and of how little we know about the operations already taking place in our state.”
The bill would put many new protections on what is now a largely unregulated industrial practice. For the first time, frackers would need to obtain a permit, give 30-day’s notice of operations to nearby property owners, and provide regulators with a list of chemicals they plan to use. The bill provides for trade secret protections the industry wants, but also requires them to fund air and water quality monitoring. Many of these regulations are similar to ones either proposed or already in place in numerous other states. And, unfortunately, Pavley’s SB 1054 to require notice of fracking to neighbors and regulators last year was killed by industry lobbying.
“These are the kinds of basic protections needed to protect public safety,” Senator Pavley said. “We have already seen contaminated water from other industrial sources sicken people and destroy entire towns in California. We must not repeat this pattern.”
On a related note, fracking could be a hot topic at the California Democratic Party convention, as environmental leaders are attempting to get a resolution supporting a moratorium.